Hodge: Rockets firing on all cylinders

Kelowna Rockets should win their 51st regular season game this weekend—a team record for the third year in a row.

Before this weekend is concluded and our collective memory banks are filed into the archives of time, it is quite conceivable the task will have been completed.

The Kelowna Rockets should have amassed their 51st win of the regular Western Hockey League season.

Now that is not a small feat for the fairest of any junior hockey club, however, the accomplishment is even more impressive (if not daunting) when one considers it will mark the third straight year that the local hockey club has accrued such a team track record.

To suggest the Rockets are an impressive wrecking ball of talent  is pretty much an understatement.

For Rocket fans, this season holds tremendous promise for further glory come the playoffs.

Much of the brilliance on ice this year is directly due to the cunning hockey astuteness of team owner Bruce Hamilton, who along with his coaching and management staff pulled off several significant drafts and player trades  to craft his hat-trick teams of success.

This year’s club is fully expected to vie for the Memorial Cup championship this spring when the final four clubs from across our  nation meet for the coveted junior hockey version of the Stanley Cup.

The powerful Quebec Remparts, of the Quebec Major Hockey League, will host the tournament this year, given an automatic berth in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host city along with the QMHL, Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League champions.

Kelowna is all-in this year to represent the WHL, providing we get past Brandon Wheat Kings and one or two other potential playoff round upsets.

For a club that was not predicted to do well at all this season, the Kelowna team has literally rocketed to the top of the Western Hockey League, and depending on what day you check is ranked in the top two or three clubs in all of Canada.

Once again it was Hamilton and crew which collected the skilled puck movers this season that deserve credit.

The Rockets were already firing on all cylinders half way through the year led by veteran puck stars such as Rourke Chartier, Nick Merkley, Tyson Baillie and goalie Jackson Whistle when Hamilton pulled off two huge trades back in January.

In two separate deals with the Prince Albert Raiders, Hamilton procured Edmonton Oiler rookie Leon Draisaitl and then robbed the Raiders of stud defenseman Josh Morrissey, who has already been drafted by the Winnipeg Jets .

The two highly ranked stars have already contributed tremendously to the team and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Hopefully Rocket fans will be able to savour the suspected success of this club well into the late spring.


Speaking of winners, tonight (Friday) should prove to be a very interesting evening for many. An eclectic accumulation of creative characters are collaborating in a fun night tonight while celebrating a true artist in town.

The excuse for the gathering is to honour talented local photographer extraordinaire Wendy McAlpine.

Wendy, as many will recall, recently completed a unique personal professional quest of snapping a portrait of a different Kelowna personalities every day for a complete year.

McAlpine’s 365-day Faces of Kelowna collection of amazing mug shots began quietly enough more than a year ago as a “one click at a time” fun challenge and metamorphosed into a tremendous collection of “Who’s who” in K-Town.

In celebration of her efforts and in recognition of her birthday, a large number of her photography subjects are gathering tonight at Third Space Coffee to celebrate Wendy’s work and her 50th birthday.

As a bonus spin to the evening several of the ‘subject matters’ of the portraits will be combing their skills or hobbies into unique performances or contributions to the night such as music, poetry, dance, spoken word, artwork. Rawle Iam James, Keith Thom, Nygel Metcalfe, Caleb Drew and many others will take part.

As well, a full collection of the tremendous photos taken by the talented McAlpine will be displayed and some souvenir booklets available as well.

It should be another unique night, recognizing a unique individual with as big a heart as she has talent—which is huge.